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Guild Wars 2

Guild Wars 2 Is The Real MMO Revolution

In the lead-up to the launch of Star Wars: The Old Republic, BioWare and EA increased the hype by pushing the idea that their game was revolutionary. I always cringed when I heard it. The Old Republic wrapped together a lot of things I already loved about MMOs and proved that adding a real story to that formula is a meaningful change. It was enough to draw me in and keep me hooked for a few months, but calling it "revolutionary" is an exaggeration.

ArenaNet is no BioWare. It is a relatively small Seattle-area company that many non-PC gamers haven’t even heard of, and it’s is preparing to release what appears to be the slickest, most smartly developed MMO I’ve ever seen. Oh, and there’s no subscription fee. ArenaNet has been quietly working away for years now and hasn’t used the weighty words that EA threw around so freely, so allow me to do so for them: Guild Wars 2 does everything The Old Republic promised and then some. This is the actual MMO revolution we’ve been waiting for.

I started my most recent journey to Tyria as a female norn guardian. Norn are a race of rustic, nature-loving northerners who have been driven from their homeland by a giant frost dragon named Jormag. The norn storyline begins in the makeshift capital of Hoelbrak, a giant city where they are preparing for the Great Hunt.

Guild Wars 2 continues the recent MMO trend of attempting to make story meaningful and important in an online setting, but there’s at least one thing ArenaNet is doing immediately better than The Old Republic. Your personal story is based entirely on your choice of race rather than class, and classes are not race-restricted. This means players won’t find themselves stuck with certain gameplay mechanics that they might not enjoy just because they’ve heard one class has the best storyline.

Part of that approach to storytelling comes in character creation. Unlike other games, you aren’t just tweaking your character’s visuals at the start. You’ll also make several personality choices that affect dialogue options and, eventually, the direction of your story altogether.

For example, I was able to choose whether my norn wore a helm identifying her as a truth seeker or some pauldrons showing her stripes as a religious fanatic. After that, I was asked what happened at a recent norn party. Did my character black out? Did she get into a fight with a rival? I wasn’t able to get far enough in the norn storyline in one weekend to see how these decisions actually affect things, but a coworker informed me that you'll begin seeing some of the differences before you hit level 20.

After finishing character creation, I was tossed into a tutorial area where I needed to prove my worth by hunting down one of several possible huge creatures. I went after a minotaur bull who was protected by its cubs. After gathering my trophy kills, I returned to Knut Whitebear, a higher-ranking norn who informed me that for the final event of this Great Hunt, he had lured a giant wurm to the area and was inviting all heroes to fight it.

Every race’s tutorial area ends with a similar boss encounter meant to teach how the open-world group events work. In this case, I was joined by three or four other level one characters in a small mountain enclosure where we encountered a ton of tiny wurms. After taking out enough of these burrowing menaces, the giant wurm that Whitebear spoke of burst from the ground. In the huge encounter that ensued, we had to avoid giant swipes of the wurm’s body by watching for tells and dodging. We also had to contend with smaller enemies as he summoned more of the tiny wurms to his aid.

Guild Wars 2’s event system scales dynamically based on how many players are in the area, but regardless of group size, encounters like this are immediately challenging. Even at level one, even in the prologue area, ArenaNet isn’t afraid to throw players into a situation where they need to pay attention, learn patterns, and use skills smartly. A massive creature like this should involve more than just hacking away at its torso for a minute or two. It should be a battle of attrition, and that’s what it felt like – albeit a very fun battle of attrition.

Comments
  • WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR ARENANET? I am drooling like crazy for this game.

  • i got all the guild wars expansions and gonna reinstall them on my new desktop that im planning to get this year along with this game

  • I heard about GW2 before, but I'm so hyped for it now after reading all these previews, can't wait!

  • I really wish you meatheads could write a story about why a game is innovative without loading the frickin article with spoilers about the story. If you cannot describe gameplay features without fattening up your prose with story content, at least a a spoiler alert. Thanks, Phil.
  • "Guild Wars 2 does everything The Old Republic promised and then some. This is the actual MMO revolution we’ve been waiting for."

    This game will redefine MMO's going forwards, it is about time a developer stepped up and concentrated making 'their' game rather than looking at the Blizzard's success.  I am also expecting Blizzard to redefine the genre with their next 'Titan' MMO.  Exciting times ahead for MMO gamers and well overdue.

    BioWare, go back to the drawing board if you are even a little serious about competing against ArenaNet and Blizzard.

  • Says its an 'mmo revolution', doesn't play to level 20. What an idiotic conclusion, especially coming from someone who isn't new to the genre. I am as excited to see if this game is better than the original (which was not a very good mmo, despite any nostalgia), as much as anyone but what mmo isn't fun or creative through the first stages of the game? Lets see how much of a revolution this game is once the grind starts, lets see if the designers got lazy and just dropped in filler quests as leveling slows down, lets see how well stocked on end-game content the game is. Lets see the most important components of mmo success before we start declaring it to be everything that swtor and other mmos weren't. I am very disappointed with this article and to be completely honest, I don't think this game is going to be near the success that people suddenly seem to think it will be. Who knows, I'd be happy to eat crow in this case.
  • I keep hearing about this game as well i might pick it up I just dont have the time that I used to.. wish I could sit and play video games for a living.

  • ToR promised 100% voice over. Did Guild Wars 2 do this?
  • The more I hear about this game the more I can not wait for it release. I admit I wasnt really into the first Guild Wars, I lost interest in it pretty fast but seeing how Final Fantasy 11 is starting to bore me Iam willing to try Guild Wars out again

  • Well, for 1, my sub ran out yesterday SWTOR and i'm not going to resub. Too easy to do everything, lvl, get geared for pvp and pve, ops, flashpoints, etc, etc. I am shocked that a game that cost so much ran out of content in 2 months for me. The stories did rock, cannot take that away from it, but if the best thing about it for me is what a single player games do, why would I pay 15 a month for it? Well, i'm not anymore.

    So I started to read about GW2 more, and it definitely looks interesting and VERY promising.

    But then something crazy happened, my guildies started talking to me about this game TERA. So I said ok, and started to check out some videos and read up on it. And I have to say that i'm absolutely AMAZED by everything in it. Like, I am BLOWN AWAY from the videos and information out about this game. Please, everyone if you enjoy mmo's and have hated the way they've been going, you owe it to yourself to atleast do some research on it. It's coming out may 1st, and i'm going to be buying it that same day.
  • Day Zero purchase for me all the way. Quintessentially it involves me mugging the postman before he leaves the office.

  • i ask for a few things from mmo's. world pvp like old wow before LFD made sitting in your city waiting to instance in the thing to do, difficulty/grinding (going from 79-80 in wow a few years back was terrible BUT made 80 that much more gratifying), dont spoon feed me things like wow dropping the prices on epic mounts, flying, lowering mount level requirement, dropping the cost of dual spec a ton, while making getting gold easier, keep an active server population (when i decide to make a player on a server id like to know how many people are actually playing at that time so i can have an idea how many people play verses how many people have or used to have a character on said server, if raiding, have there be an option where the group will get a bonus for taking a noob in with them and showing them the ropes. too many times wow has become a game of (link ach, oh youve only done the reg raid once, well sorry you need to have done it at least 5 times), If your going to have LFR, dont scale down raid difficulty. Do things to keep people out in the massive world you created instead of having everyone chill in a city. The first guild wars was awesome, i expect it to be better this time around, and if its not, well wow can steal the cool things from it again and implement them in the next patch or expac all over again.

  • I was an avid Guild Wars player until I started no longer having the time for it, but I had ten characters, a bunch of completed games, was working on a bunch of completed titles...

    ...and I am thrilled to hear Guild Wars 2 is going to be better than the first, no matter how much I loved the first.

  • Can't wait for this!

  • Sounds like a godsend.  The lack of monthly fee makes it an even easier choice.  

    And I strongly agree that most MMORPGs make players eventually want a single player game with a chat room.

  • After DA2, I've given up on preordering, but this game is on my must have list for sure.

  • He never talked about what the combat was like, and THAT was the REAL failing of SWTOR. The combat is great, but it's not new. If Guild Wars 2 has the same tried and true combat system as every other MMO, can it really be the MMO revolution? Anyone want to clarify?
  • Guild Wars is the best MMORPG ever, and from what I've been thinking and hearing from Guild Wars 2 (since 2007), this one's going to be mind blowing. I really want to start the beta already. And know when they'll release it.

  • I have personally been following this game for a very long time.  I am really excited to see how this game turns out. I am an old school mmo'er and I am really hoping that this with it's three faction system will be a little but like Dark Age of Camelot. Nothing so far has been able to touch the amazing PvP experiences I have had in a game like Dark Age of Camelot.

    Regardless this is going to be a beautiful game, and I am sure highly successful just based on the anticipation and hype that is currently surrounding it.

  • Nice read, man I can't wait to play this!